The oldest, regular part of the Catherine Park was created in the first half of the eighteenth century in the Dutch style as a place for the crowned owners to relax and recuperate from the heavy burden of affairs of state. The small orchard that existed at Sarskaya Myza in the first years after it was given to Catherine I was replanned in the 1720s by the master gardeners Roosen and Vogt.
In the reign of Empress Elizabeth, during the reconstruction of the entire Tsarskoye Selo ensemble that began in 1743, the territory of the Old Garden was significantly enlarged. The work to create a new regular park involved the architects Kvasov, Chevakinsky and Rastrelli to whose designs and under whose supervision the construction of the Great Palace was proceeding.
The compositional arrangement of the regular park is based upon the symmetrical organization of the space around the palace, the strict, systematic placement of alleys, open areas, pavilions and park sculptures. Trees and shrubs were used in the regular park as a kind of building material; by giving them the shape of spheres, niches, arches and so on the gardeners skilfully turned the alleys into open-air green galleries and halls. The same sort of strict rules were followed in the selection and planting of trees, shrubs and flowers. Among the neatly trimmed foliage of the alleys rose amusement pavilions and sculpture that was placed in accordance with a graphic programme that sometimes conveyed an educational or moralistic “message”.
Some features of the Old Garden can sill be detected in the formal part of the Catherine Park that was recreated in the post-war years to a plan drawn up by the architect N.Ye. Tumanova on the basis of surviving drawings and documents left by Kvasov, Chevakinsky and Rastrelli.
At present the regular part of the Catherine Park occupies the area between the Catherine Palace, the Cascade Ponds and the Great Pond. The central alley of the Old Garden – the main compositional axis of the entire palace-and-park ensemble – connects the palace with the Hermitage pavilion. From in front of the palace you can clearly see the division of the area into two parts: the upper section (in front of the Catherine Palace) with descending terraces connected by flights of stone steps, and the lower section.
On the terrace that runs parallel to the façade of the Catherine Palace visitors’ attention is drawn to patterned parterre that resembles the parquet floors inside the palace. Such areas decorated with a sort of mosaic made up of crushed brick, coal, broken glass and sand of different shades were a typical feature of regular parks in the eighteenth century. The famous A. Akhmatova glorified the beauty of Tsarskoye Selo lime-trees in her poems. Visiting information